Rafa Benitez reveals why he left Aleksandar Mitrovic at home

Rafa Benitez has explained his decision to leave Aleksandar Mitrovic out of his squad for Newcastle United's visit to Ewood Park.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:42 am
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Benitez instead took Daryl Murphy across the Pennines for yesterday’s game against Blackburn Rovers.

And Murphy came off the bench late in the game, which Newcastle lost 1-0, to make his Championship debut for the club.

“The way he (Murphy) was working in the training sessions...it was not a big difference between one or the other one (on the bench),” said Benitez.

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“He did really well. He was winning the ball and bringing players into the game. I think he was fine.

“It was a difficult situation because they were deep. He did what he had to do. The only thing we didn’t do was score. We had a lot of chances, especially first half.”

United were beaten by a 74th-minunte free-kick from Charlie Mulgrew, who also scored against Benitez’s side at St James’s Park in November.

The set-piece was conceded by Jack Colback, who clumsily brought down Marvin Emnes on the edge of the Rovers box.

Benitez, however, refused to point the finger at the midfielder.

Asked about the foul, Benitez said: “It’s difficult to say it was a lack of concentration. For me, we made a mistake, and they scored a goal. It’s difficult.

“We had so many chances to score one goal, and they game could change. We had everything under control. We had to take a chance to change the game. That is football.

“The positive thing is that we did really well. The negative thing is that we didn’t get the three points.”

Meanwhile, Blackburn manager Owen Coyle still feels that Newcastle will win the Championship.

Coyle said: “We were playing against a quality side. I do believe they will be champions.

“You always have to accept that Newcastle are going to work your back line. We had to stand up and be counted.”